Justice Kavanaugh is Still Triggering the Left

Normally, one would expect that a university fortunate enough to get a sitting Supreme Court Justice to join its faculty would be receiving accolades from its students. But of course, these are not normal times. Thus, when George Mason University recently announced that Justice Brett Kavanaugh would co-teach (along with Professor Jennifer L. Mascott) a summer class at its Antonin Scalia Law School, the campus Left was seriously triggered.

Students immediately launched protests, a petition drive, and an ad campaign claiming that they would suffer harm due to the uncorroborated allegations of sexual assault made against Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings last fall.

Reason's Robby Soave described the unhinged response:

'The hiring of Kavanaugh threatens the mental well-being of all survivors on this campus,' said one female student during the public comment period of GMU's board meeting last week… Another student, a survivor of sexual violence, claimed that her mental health had already suffered as a result of the Antonin Scalia Law School's decision to hire Kavanaugh. 'It is affecting my mental health knowing that an abuser will be part of our faculty,' she said. A third student said, ‘As someone who has survived sexual assault three times, I do not feel comfortable with someone who has sexual assault allegations walking on campus.'

And it wasn’t just students.  Professor Bethany Letiecq, president of GMU's chapter of the American Association of University Professors, actually suggested that the university conduct its own separate investigation of Kavanaugh. “It's hard to imagine what such an investigation would even look like,” Soave noted, “given that the incidents in question do not involve GMU, were made three decades ago, and were already explored by the federal government and the news media.”

GMU president Angel Cabrera sought to bring some common sense and civility to the discussion, saying that:

“I respect the views of people who disagreed with Justice Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation due to questions raised about his sexual conduct in high school… But he was confirmed and is now a sitting Justice. The law school has determined that the involvement of a U.S. Supreme Court Justice contributes to making our law program uniquely valuable for our students. And I accept their judgment.”

Dr. Cabrera later reiterated his support for Kavanaugh at a town hall organized by GMU’s student government, saying that “even if the outcome is painful, what’s at stake is very, very important for the integrity of the university.”

What is so absurd about all this is that Kavanaugh will not be teaching anywhere near the GMU campus in Virginia. The course will be taught in Runnymede, England. In other words, we are being asked to believe that some university students (and professors) will be traumatized by the presence of an individual teaching at a campus 3,600 miles away. 

The contretemps may surprise some who think of GMU as a conservative university. However, Walter Williams, the respected professor of economics at GMU, explained that the university's reputation as a bastion of conservatism is somewhat overstated:

“George Mason University erroneously earns a reputation as a conservative/libertarian university because of its most distinguished and internationally known liberty-oriented economics department, which can boast of two homegrown Nobel laureates in economics. Its Antonin Scalia Law School has a distinguished faculty that believes in personal liberty and reveres the U.S. Constitution -- unlike many other law schools that hold liberty and our Constitution in contempt. The rest of the university is just like most other universities -- liberal, Democratic Party-dominated. The chief difference between my GMU colleagues and liberals at some other universities is that they are polite, respectful and congenial, unlike what one might find at places like U.C. Berkeley or University of Massachusetts.”

The subject of Justice Kavanaugh's course itself might prove triggering to the Left. The course is entitled “Creation of the Constitution.” According to the course description, “students will study the historical origins of the Constitution and read Founding-era documents and debates shaping the content of the document.”

Runnymede, where the course will be taught, was the location of the sealing of the Magna Carta.

In his indispensable book, The Roots of American Order, Russell Kirk explained the significance of the Magna Carta [p. 195]:

“It became the rock upon which the English constitution was built. It was principle of the supremacy of law: the idea that an enduring law exists, which all men must obey. The king himself is one of those men under the law. Along with this principle ran the corollary principle -- that if the king breaks the law, and invades the rights of his vassals, then barons and people may deprive him of his powers.

“From this principle, the whole English constitution -- an unwritten constitution in the sense that it can be found in no single document -- developed in time. This principle would be asserted by the Americans in the last quarter of the eighteenth century; it is the root of the Declaration of Independence.”

This is our shared heritage, the British legal system, the foundation of America's freedom. Recently, Joe Biden, the current Democratic frontrunner for the presidency, said that our "English jurisprudential culture" should be changed, although he declined to say what he might replace it with. Biden ought to take some time to visit Runnymede this summer and audit Justice Kavanaugh's class. He just might learn something.

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